Reviewing Board Upholds Award of Permanent and Total Disability Benefits Obtained by Carney Law Firm

gavel-5-1409595-mIn this Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation claim, an injured union sheet metal worker represented by Carney Law Firm was awarded Section 34A permanent and total disability benefits.  The injured worker, represented by Attorney Brendan G. Carney, initially injured his left knee at work in 1980.  He had left knee surgery and returned to work shortly thereafter.  Then in 1998, while working on a pitched roof, the worker felt a sharp pain in his left knee.  He underwent arthroscopic surgery, and returned to work once again after a few months of disability as he recovered from this second left knee surgery.  He continued to work as a sheet metal roofer, and then in 2008 his left knee pain returned.  He worked through pain, aided by injections, for four more years when his doctor told him he needed a total knee replacement.  Because by this point he had worked enough years to qualify for a retirement pension through his union, he retired from work because of his left knee condition.   Although his left knee symptoms were clearly all related to his history of work injuries, the worker was not aware that he was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.  He consulted with another attorney who was not sure whether there was a viable workers’ compensation claim.  That prior attorney contacted our firm for guidance. After a thorough investigation of the injured workers’ medical and employment history, Carney Law Firm agreed to pursue the case.  A claim for Section 34 temporary total disability benefits and payment for medical treatment, and then later a claim for Section 34A permanent and total disability benefits were then pursued by our firm.

The claim was filed against the workers’ compensation insurer for the workers’ employer on the 1998 date of injury.  The insurance company and its lawyers denied the claim and forced the claim into litigation.  The insurance company attempted on several occasions to argue that the worker suffered a work related aggravation or worsening of his left knee injury after he returned to work with new employers following his 1998 left knee surgery.   The judge repeatedly denied these attempts by the insurance company to deny payment by shifting payment responsibility to other insurance companies.  After a full evidentiary hearing that included testimony of the injured worker, a vocational expert retained by Carney Law Firm, and testimony of the DIA’s impartial orthopedic physician, the judge awarded permanent and total disability benefits to the injured worker.  The insurance company then again attempted to deny payment of this claim by filing an appeal to the DIA Reviewing Board.  On March 23, 2017, the Reviewing Board issued an 11 page decision that upheld the decision of the judge.  The Reviewing Board’s full decision can be read by clicking here.

This case is a good example of how our Boston work injury attorneys can navigate through complex legal issues that are unique to the Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system to achieve maximum financial compensation for our clients.  This case involved complex legal issues regarding pre-existing injury, average weekly wage, extent of disability, the successive insurer rule, vocational expert testimony, expert medical evidence, social security disability offsets, the insurance company’s raising Section 35E ( which can preclude an injured worker from receiving weekly worker’s compensation benefits past age 65 in certain circumstances) and the appeals process. Quite simply, every conceivable issue that the insurance company could possibly raise to defend this claim was raised by the insurance company.  Carney Law Firm was able to successfully navigate our client through all of these complex issues. To date, this injured worker (who was not aware he was entitled to compensation until contacting our office), has received $150,000.00 in total weekly compensation, and shall continue to receive $690.76 per week for the rest of his life.  If he lives out his statistical life expectancy, total compensation received could exceed $850,000.00.